Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and across the nation, plus all other people of good will, are encouraged to join in the Fortnight for Freedom June 21 to July 4. The fifth annual observance in response to challenges to religious freedom in America is sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In Philadelphia, public events on June 25-26 will place particular emphasis on prayer for the Fortnight for Freedom.

Archbishop Charles Chaput will be the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass for Religious Freedom Sunday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Preceding the Mass at 5:30, a holy hour will be led by Father Dennis Gill, rector of the cathedral, and confessions will also be heard at that time. All are welcome to attend.

On Saturday, June 25 at the cathedral, all are invited about and be inspired by the English martyrs, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, beginning at 4 p.m. followed by the Saturday evening vigil Mass at 5:15 and veneration of the relics of the saints at 6:15.

The two prominent 16th century Englishmen opposed King Henry VIII’s attempt to usurp Catholic authority in England, accepting martyrdom instead of abandoning their faith.

During the coming two-week period the U.S. bishops’ conference suggests local parish-based initiatives including daily praying of the rosary, adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; praying for religious freedom in all meetings and assemblies in the parish during the period, and parish outreach efforts especially to the needy and the poor to demonstrate how religious freedom enables the church to serve others.